select search filters
roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to the UK Climate Risk Independent Assessment, as published by the Climate Change Committee

Led by the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the comprehensive independent assessment of UK Climate Risk (CCRA3) has been published.


Dr Bablu Sinha, Senior Scientist and Lead for the Climate and Uncertainty group at NOC, said:

Does the press release accurately reflect the science?

“This press release accurately reflects the findings and data from the Climate Change Council’s independent assessment of UK climate risk.

Is this good quality research?  Are the conclusions backed up by solid data?

“The report presents good quality research as it is based on data underpinning the IPCC AR6 Report and uses the UKCIP18 to assess UK impacts. It uses the best available data, showing the quality of the research. The report also provides some indication of how robust the conclusions are to model resolution.

How does this work fit with the existing evidence?

“The work is fully compatible with what we already know for IPCC AR5, AR6 and IPCC Special Reports.

Have the authors accounted for confounders?  Are there important limitations to be aware of?

“The authors of the report are upfront about uncertainties, particularly when looking into the future and post 2050, which is when scenario uncertainty begins. Additionally, the authors discuss low probability high impact events within the report.

What are the implications in the real world?  Is there any overspeculation?

“I do not think there is overspeculation with in the report, it gives a sober and clear overview of the implications.

What is the take-home message from this report for your average British citizen, especially one who might think the impact of climate change on them is or will be negligible?

“There are definitely going to be impacts on everyone, but clearly the impacts will be higher on lower income groups in particular.  Even for high income groups there are going to be impacts on quality of life. Additionally, the report highlights impacts that are being felt already. It doesn’t need much extrapolation to see that impacts will worsen in time unless action is taken.

“The key message is that reducing emissions is a very good thing, but we will also need to adapt to the changes in climate that have already occurred and the changes that will keep happening until the world reaches Net Zero emissions. Ultimately, we should start now, or it will cost a lot of money and lives later.

The report identifies “eight risk areas that require the most urgent attention in the next two years”. What do we know about these risks and the measures available to mitigate them? do we have the tools we need and are they being used? 

“There are 8 risks identified which are listed below:

1.terrestrial and freshwater habitats

2.risks to soil health from flooding and drought

3.natural carbon stores

4.risk to agriculture/forestry supply

6.power supply exposure

8.overseas impacts

“My expertise lies within points two and seven, where I can say that the risks are characterised well. My opinion is that the report accurately reports the risks of increasing flooding and drought and increasing temperature extremes.

What stands out to you/anything else you want to comment on or highlight?

“The report makes a persuasive case for investing in adaption measures and many of its recommendations do not seem incredibly expensive. However, it was unclear to me what the upfront cost of implementing the recommended measures would be. It is understood that the outlay will be recouped later, but it would be good to have a further understanding of roughly how much needs to be spent on adaption in the next few years. Ultimately, the report conveys a clear message: Climate Change is happening; the UK is not adequately preparing for it; Acting now is cheaper than acting later.”


Professor Jim Hall FREng, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, Director of Research in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, said:

“The UK’s third climate change risk assessment sets out stark new evidence of the impacts of climate change for the UK. Ecosystems and natural habitats are already being significantly impacted by climate change. The vast scientific assessment that was led by the Committee on Climate Change shines a light how soils are deteriorating and how peatlands could release vast quantities of carbon to the atmosphere if they are not sustainable managed. The UK’s commitments to cutting carbon emissions could be thwarted unless more is done to protect and adapt these ecosystems. In addition, the CCRA highlights climate risks to the systems upon which we all depend, including food supply chains and electricity supply networks. Many vulnerable people are living in homes that are not adapted to the heatwaves we are now experiencing. Our lifestyles are threatened by climate change, and more needs to be done to prepare for these risks.”


Dr Liz Thomas, climate scientist and head of the ice cores team, British Antarctic Survey, said:

“Bubbles trapped in polar ice contain information about past greenhouse gas concentrations. The rate of acceleration in atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution is unprecedented, with levels higher now than at any time during the past 800,000 years. In addition, this and rising sea levels from the melting ice caps, will affect coastal communities in the UK and globally.”


Prof Nigel Arnell, Professor of Climate System Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, said:

“The third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment paints a rather depressing picture of how well prepared we are in the UK for climate change. Whilst there are some positive areas – particularly regarding flooding and water scarcity where much has been done – clearly a lot more needs to be done to cope with the increasing risks from climate change. National and international climate policy has focussed on reducing emissions, but we also need to adapt to inevitable change.

“The CCRA3 report draws on a great deal of published research and the team have done a great job in synthesising disparate sources evidence. But there are still important things we don’t know. The report shows that governments, businesses and the research community face challenges in exploring the effectiveness of specific adaptation measures, and the plausible ‘worst case scenarios’ that we need to plan for. To be effective, climate adaptation and resilience must be central to plans to ‘build back better’ from COVID19.


Dr Friederike Otto, Associate Director, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, said:

“The report highlights in the first paragraphs, that the UK is indeed not adapted to today’s impacts of climate change, a fact that cannot be highlighted enough. While it is mentioned as one of the key risks (the 7th) the fact that people are dying every summer because of the dramatic increase in heatwaves could have been made stronger, given that the likelihood of heatwaves has increased and will continue to do so by a much larger factor than flood risk.”


Prof Albert Klein Tank, Director, Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, said:

“The UK climate change risk assessment incorporates the most up to date peer-reviewed climate science to help everyone understand the impacts that climate change will exert on the UK’s resilience. We know that climate change is already happening and the effects will increasingly gain momentum. 

“The risk assessment looks at two futures for the UK: one where global efforts to tackle climate change are actively pursued and one where there the action is more restrained.  Neither pathway allows us to live in a world immune from the impacts of climate change, but one suppresses the worst impacts. 

“We’re proud that Met Office science is at the heart of the risk assessment and we look forward to expanding the breadth of our science to find sustainable ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while finding ways for society to adapt to the climate-related changes which we are already committed to.”



‘The Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Technical Report’ by the Climate Change Committee was published at 00:01 UK time on Wednesday 16th June.



Declared interests

Prof Jim Hall: I have no conflicts of interest.

Dr Liz Thomas: There are no conflicts of interest.

Prof Nigel Arnell: Chaired the independent peer review panel for the CCRA3 Technical Reports.

Dr Friederike Otto: No conflicts

Prof Albert Klein Tank: No declarations of interest

in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag